Authors: Delphine Dryden
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Fiction
When in Rio
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
When in Rio Copyright © 2009
Edited by Kelli Collins.
Cover art by Syneca.
Electronic book Publication February 2009
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When in Rio
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following
mentioned in this work of fiction:
Clark Kent: DC Comics
: Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Google: Google Inc.
Jeep: DaimlerChrysler Corporation
Land Rover: Land Rover Corporation
Lois Lane: DC Comics
Mercedes: DaimlerChrysler Corporation
Snow White: Disney Enterprises, Inc.
: DC Comics
Starbucks: Starbucks U.S. Brands
Superman: DC Comics
Tiger Balm: Haw Par Corporation Limited
Call me crazy, but I had never wanted to visit Rio de Janeiro.
Not that I have anything against the place. It’s beautiful by anybody’s standards. But I’m not big on beaches, I don’t like crowds, I can’t dance the samba and, while I do recall a smattering of my high school Spanish, I don’t know a word of Portuguese.
Why couldn’t it have been a business trip to
, Switzerland? Lake Louise, Canada? Even just a quick hop to Seattle, where I could drink Starbucks in the home of Starbucks, and my pasty-pale skin wouldn’t be at risk of sunburn, and my light-shunning eyes wouldn’t have to squint and don sunglasses against the glare. But no. None of those trips were on offer.
Instead, my boss was calmly explaining what my functions would be when I accompanied him to a weeklong global climate change conference to be held in beautiful, sunny Rio. Starting ten days from that very day.
If I’d known this was the price I’d pay for my recent unsought promotion, I would have taken more care to seem mediocre at my job.
But let me back up just a little, provide a little more context. My name is Katie Snow—Katherine, really, and please
call me Kathy—and I’m an ecologist with Globe Oil. Until recently, this meant I went to a lot of places where my company did business, gathering data and writing reports for the EPA on how well the company was complying with various environmental regulations. Clean air and water, impact statements, proposed countermeasures…exciting stuff like that. My mistake, I realized too late, was that people found out I could write. And organize.
And that meant that pretty soon, I caught the attention of the Senior Vice President and Global Director of Environmental Studies, John Benedict. The Big Boss.
Jack, to his closer colleagues. And presumably to his friends. None of us actually knew if he had any though. Jack was mainly just something the yes-men throughout the company called him when he wasn’t around, as in, “Jack is behind this project one hundred percent”, or “We’d need Jack’s approval before even considering that”. Or even, occasionally, “Jackass”. But almost all the top company brass came in for that sort of name calling occasionally. My friend Callie was more inclined to say “Jack…off” because she thought he was smoking hot.
“He’s the senior vice president in charge of what’s in my pants,” she would whisper to me with a goofy grin, whenever she was with me and we had occasion to see him at a meeting or in the company cafeteria. But then, Callie was a geologist and they could be an odd bunch at times.
I tried very hard to take a more cautious view myself because, after all, I worked for the man. So sure, I thought he was good looking enough in a clean-cut, boy-next-door-all-grown-up sort of way. Early forties, in very good shape from what I could see. Crisp haircut, with just a smidgen of premature gray peppered through the dark brown at the temples, giving him a hint of distinction. Conservative clothes, nothing flashy, but they looked expensive and fit him too well for it to be accidental. And even on casual Fridays he had starch in the pleats of his khakis, and his polo shirts looked professionally laundered and pressed.
He was well groomed, not like a
but like someone with good, steady habits. He looked extremely relaxed and self-contained, always, and maybe just a little bit smug. Like nothing any of us corporate nerds could ever do would be a big enough deal to ruffle his feathers. Which made sense. For him to be as high up in management as he was at his age, he would have to have the ability to at least give the impression he could take anything in stride, handle it and move on. The gray hairs, maybe, were proof that it wasn’t all as easy as he made it look. Or maybe they were just genetic.
Not that I had spent a lot of time staring at, thinking about or analyzing every detail of my boss’s physique and personality, of course. Not that I had spent two years gulping and stammering every time he so much as spoke to me, because he raised my heartbeat so much it was hard to breathe around him. Not that I had pretty much stopped dating because nobody I met seemed to compare even remotely to Jack. Nothing like that.
I just always admire people who have that ability to seem like they know what they’re doing at all times. I’m aware it’s all about attitude—it’s just not an attitude I’ve ever been able to pull off.
Me? I’m usually a mess, for one thing. I throw on whatever’s clean and just head out the door—and it shows. My mother despairs. On one recent casual Friday I didn’t even realize until two in the afternoon that my favorite jeans were starting to sport a hole in the butt. Which, of course, my shirt didn’t come down quite far enough to cover. The hole grew larger as the hours passed, as such holes have a way of doing. Still, I don’t think anybody noticed, except for Callie who’s obsessed with clothes. And that guy from the mailroom, but he really had no business looking at my butt anyway.
But back to “Jack” Benedict, who had been the Big Boss for over two years, but to whom I had only started reporting directly about a month before the trip to Rio was proposed. He had been hinting for months about restructuring, about working to “determine the unique strengths and weaknesses” of those in the department and then “building a team around people’s abilities, not their job titles”.
I should have realized right away that the writing thing would come to the fore. From the rank and file, I was fast-tracked to become the senior data compilation expert and the departmental liaison to public relations. All of which was a fancy way of saying that I would be in the office next to Jack’s, putting together results from others’ time in the field, writing reports, writing meta-reports about what all the reports said, writing proposals and other similar joys, sending it all along to various governmental agencies and then summarizing it all so that Jack would always have a handy statement to pass along to the PR people for press releases and shareholder newsletters.
I started to wonder almost right away if the phenomenal raise was worth it. Jack was not, it turned out, a jackass to work for. He just had very high standards, a very dry sense of humor and could be a bit brusque with his requests, which was probably why he’d earned that reputation. High standards were a good thing as far as I was concerned, one more thing to add to the long list of qualities I admired about Jack. But I missed being out in the field more than I’d anticipated. Missed the information gathering, the problem solving. Ecology was like a mystery and I loved delving into that mystery, collecting all the clues.
It had already been disappointing to move from working on original impact statements to simply collecting and reporting on clean air and water data, which had happened after nearly all the new domestic oil drilling dried up. I had wanted to work with plants and animals, so air and water were a bit of a letdown. Being an environmentalist at heart though, I was happy on some level even with the changes, because they meant there was less new drilling in potentially fragile ecosystems. And at least I was still out doing things, looking for answers.
Now I was just gathering those answers from other people, and I didn’t realize how different that would be until I was stuck doing it every day. On the other hand, the adorable new midnight blue BMW sitting in my reserved parking space was a powerful incentive to persevere.
But Rio, I thought, was just a bit too much to ask. For various reasons, not all of them having to do with the beachfront attractions, none of which attracted
“Janet’s just not up to it, Kate,” Jack insisted. Jack called me Kate, which I somehow preferred to him calling me Katie like most people did. More professional. Katie would have seemed a bit too personal somehow, coming from him. “You know she’s still puking three times a day.”
Ah, that was a professional way to put it. It was true though. Janet Mayhew, one of the regional directors for ecological studies, had been slated to attend the conference along with Jack. Unfortunately for us all, she was in the throes of some of the worst morning sickness our office had ever seen. We were all impressed, though a little horrified, that she was able to come into the office at all. Most of us had taken to avoiding the ladies’ restroom on the floor where she worked. There was no way she would be able to enjoy Rio or be expected to learn anything useful at the conference in her current pitiful state, even if her doctor did approve the trip.
“But I’m not an executive, Jack. Janet
, I really don’t do schmoozing.” I really didn’t do Rio in March. For several days. With Jack. When you had the office next to his and reported directly to him, you got to call him Jack, I had discovered. He insisted, in fact. I had sort of preferred Mr. Benedict. Calling him Jack felt a little too personal somehow, coming from me.
“No, but I actually think this will work out better. I’ll be presenting three times at the conference, and you can sit in on all that and let me know if anything needs tweaking. Janet’s an MBA, not an ecologist. She’s good on compliance but she’s clueless about the science side. All the different sessions, the workshops, most of them would be wasted on Janet. You’d have an understanding of the topics that she just wouldn’t bring.”
He shifted tactics—and seemed to be bringing out bigger guns. “I realize it’s a big trip on short notice, but it would be a very valuable opportunity for you. Adam Cromwell recommended I select a replacement I thought would provide the company the best chance of bringing good information back and putting it to use. This thing isn’t cheap.”
Of course it wasn’t cheap. But it seemed even further from what I wanted to be doing. On the other hand, my boss had just dropped the name of the CEO while persuading a flunky to attend a conference in Rio. Obviously he really,
wanted me to go, which I couldn’t help but find flattering.
I looked up from my scuffed brown suede pumps to see Jack watching me with an intensity I hadn’t expected.
Blue…my God, how had I never noticed that his eyes were so
? Were those contacts? They were astonishing. You could fall right into them.
But you aren’t supposed to be noticing the boss’s brilliant blue eyes, Katie. NOT good for business.
“Of course I’ll go, Jack, and I’m very flattered. I just wasn’t expecting it but…of course.”
“Great! That’s my girl. I’ll have Ted get you all the details and a copy of my presentation in case you have any suggestions, and here is…” He wrote a quick note on a sticky pad from the drawer of his immaculate desk and handed it to me. “Here’s the URL for the conference website, so you can get some information about the sessions and decide what you want to attend. Ted will e-mail you the ones I’ve already earmarked to sit in on, and get you everything you’ll need to fill out and sign to get a visa. Your passport’s current, right? And I also hereby grant you from now until lunchtime to Google everything you ever wanted to know about Rio.”
I laughed politely, thanked him cordially, disappeared into my office—no longer a cubicle now, I even had a window—closed the door and flopped into my chair with a little sigh of despair.
Rio alone was cause for concern. The despair was because I had no idea how I would ever survive an entire week in a romantic, tropical resort town with Jack Benedict without throwing myself at his feet, admitting to two years of secret adoration and begging him to let me be his sex slave.